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The Lacrimal Bone

Anatomy

The lacrimal bone (Latin “lacrima” = tears) is the smallest bone of the skull (avg. 11-14 mm). It is paired and sits inside the bony orbit taking up a small area of the most anterior part of the medial wall.

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Anatomy, function and definition of the lacrimal bone.

The lacrimal bone has two surfaces, a lateral (orbital) and medial (nasal) one. The lateral surface features the lacrimal groove which forms the fossa for lacrimal sac, together with the lacrimal groove of the maxilla. The lacrimal sac and the naso-lacrimal duct lie within this depression. Posteriorly the fossa is limited by the posterior lacrimal crest. The medial surface contributes to the middle nasal meatus and comes in contact with the ethmoid cells.

Lacrimal bone - medial view

Lacrimal bone - medial view

Borders

The lacrimal bone has a common border with the frontal process of the maxilla anteriorly. This incomplete articulation does not weaken their union as the fossa is very small and both bones are tightly bordered by many others. Superiorly the bone articulates with the frontal bone. Posteriorly it borders with the lamina papyracea of the anterior ethmoid cells, sometimes even constituting part of their walls. Inferiorly the bone extends to the nasal cavity to articulate with the anterior part of the inferior nasal concha.

Lacrimal bone - ventral view

Lacrimal bone - ventral view

Osseous Development

During embryological development the lacrimal bone has one ossification center arising from the cartilaginous nasal capsule. It matures through intramembranous ossification. In newborns they are already well developed and completely ossified.

Summary

The lacrimal bone is the smallest bone of the skull. It is paired and sits inside the bony orbit. The lacrimal bone has two surfaces, a lateral (orbital) and medial (nasal) one. The lateral surface features the lacrimal groove which forms the fossa for lacrimal sac, together with the lacrimal groove of the maxilla. The medial surface contributes to the middle nasal meatus and comes in contact with the ethmoid cells.

The lacrimal bone has the following borders:

  • Anteriorly - frontal process of maxilla
  • Superiorly - frontal bone
  • Posteriorly - lamina papyracea of the anterior ethmoid cells
  • Inferiorly - anterior part of inferior nasal concha
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Show references

References:

  • Neil S. Norton, Frank H. Netter: Netter’s Head and Neck Anatomy for Dentistry, 2nd edition, Elsevier Saunders, p.36
  • Friedrich Anderhuber, Franz Pera, Johannes Streicher: Waldeyer Anatomie des Menschen, De Gruyter (2012), 19th edition, p.723
  • D. J. Cunningham, A. Robinson: Cunningham's text-book of anatomy, 5th edition, Henry Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton, Oxford Press Warehouse (1918), p.143-144
  • A. J. Cohen, M. Mercandetti, B. G. Brazzo: The Lacrimal System, Springer (2006), p.3, 20-21

Author:

  • Dr. Alexandra Sierosławska

Illustrators:

  • Lacrimal bone - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Lacrimal bone - ventral view - Paul Kim
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